Katie Viqueira
The Other Side (El Otro Lado)

Katie Viqueira, vocals; Nando Michelin, piano; Gustavo Amarante, bass; Bertram Lehmann, drums and percussion

The Other Side is a most distinctive and thoughtfully designed session and is arguably the only recording in existence which successfully juxtaposes modern improvisational influences with an awareness of the dramatic and poetic elements of Argentine tango and folklore. The leader's beautiful, commanding voice is featured throughout, with contrasting, modern arrangements by the gifted Uruguayan pianist Nando Michelin. The results are fresh, the antithesis of the hackneyed Latin Jazz blowing session.

"Como Pajaros en el Aire (Like Birds in Flight)," an original composition by Peteco Carabajal, easily serves as a theme for the session. As in the vocal music of Enrique Granados, the great Spanish composer, the powerful, poetic lyric is of central importance and is exploited for maximum emotional effect. Carabajal's verse is sentimental, and in translation loosely reads, "The hands of my mother are like birds in flight; the hands of my mother represent an open sky." Michelin's phrases, including those in the strongly modal, B-minor tonality, quickly establish a link to the American Jazz tradition.

The atmospheric piano tone clusters in Homero and Virgilio Exposito's "Naranjo en Flor" are perhaps reminiscent of those used by Joaquin Turina in "Cuentos de Espana"; however, any reference to the visionary Spanish composer quickly vanishes as the piece suddenly segues to tango rhythms and a piano improvisation loosely based on the changes to "Take the A Train."

The Other Side is proof of Ms. Viqueira's uncanny ability to synthesize seemingly disparate genres.

by James D. Armstrong Jr.

New Sounds - CD Reviews March 2000